Next-Gen HD Remasters

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A popular thing in the late years of this console generation has been upgraded versions of PS2-era games. People have started asking if this will repeat — if the PS4 and Xbox One will get upgraded versions of PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Personally I think it makes sense, but maybe for different reasons and with different games.

Some people might ask why, since current-generation games are already running in HD. The answer is that they aren’t “HD enough.” Most PS3 and Xbox 360 games are only running in 720p at 30 frames per second — far from the optimum image quality your TV is probably capable of outputting. Another reason is that a lot of games from the last couple years just plain don’t run well on current-gen consoles where they’re missing a ton of graphical features you get on high-end PCs. That’s why so many games this year have next-gen versions.

In the near term, a lot of people are asking for next-gen ports of Grand Theft Auto V, Gran Turismo 6, and Dark Souls II. Going by the cycle of previous GTA games, I think Rockstar is definitely gonna release a higher-quality PC version of GTAV sometime next year. It’s just a question of whether they’ll bring those assets to PS4 and Xbox One versions. Gran Turismo head Kazunori Yamauchi has already addressed the requests with speculation that a PS4 version of GT6 might transform into GT7. From Software quickly shot down speculation for a next-gen Dark Souls II on grounds that it would be a waste to release a version that simply runs at a higher resolution.

I think an issue with bringing the current-gen library to next-gen is that so many PS3 and Xbox 360 games have PC versions that you can already run in whatever resolution and framerate you desire. Maybe there are enough console-only gamers willing to re-buy those games to get better performance, but I’m not.

For reasons like that, a big part of the list of games I think would make sense as next-gen remasters is comprised of console-exclusive games. Seeing the Uncharted games, Killzone games, and The Last of Us running in 1080p would be great as good as those games look. Microsoft has to at least be thinking about doing this for the Halo series and Gears of War too if it can convince Epic.

I think it would make the most sense to give this treatment to games that the PS3 and 360 weren’t quite able to handle compared to PC. The Crysis games on current-gen consoles pale in comparison to their PC versions, so I think it would be a great idea to release the three of them plus Warhead on next-gen consoles where they’ll look more like they should. 4A games already announced a PS4 version of Metro Last Light which falls into the same category as Crysis, and it was rumored they’d do a PS4 version of Metro 2033 as well. The Witcher 2 is another PC game that got visually cut down for its Xbox 360 port (which was still an impressive feat). If CDProjekt RED was able to do it before The Witcher 3 came out, it’d be a good idea to do a next-gen port of TW2, especially since PlayStation consoles haven’t had a Witcher game at all.

And what about the viability of next-gen versions of last-gen games? I think developers should’ve waited until next-gen to start doing these ports anyway. Most current HD remasters are only able to get the PS2 games running in 720p and 30fps. I wonder how many people would buy them again to play them in 1080p and 60fps. There are even still HD remasters from that era that are still being released or haven’t been made yet that I might want. There’s inevitably going to be a Kingdom Hearts 2.5 with HD versions of Kingdom Hearts II and Birth By Sleep. Why stop at PS3 with that? Square Enix has said that good sales of Final Fantasy X | X2 Remaster would encourage an HD version of XII — why not put that on PS4? Sega has recognized the demand for HD versions of Skies of Arcadia and Shenmue (which would likely end up on PC as well). There are even rumors Sega’s been sitting on completed HD versions of Shenmue and Shenmue II since 2009.

Last but not least you have the whole library of Nintendo games we’ve still never seen in HD outside of emulators. I imagine Wind Waker HD is a test, and I hope it succeeds. I want to see Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime, Skyward Sword, F-Zero GX, and a ton of other Wii, Gamecube, and N64 games running in 1080p.

The problem with doing HD remasters for yet another console generation is that it brings up the question “where does it end?” Can you just keep doing them repeatedly each time a new generation of hardware shows up? Every time a new format of video or music shows up pretty much the entire history of the medium gets updated and re-released (we’re even seeing this happen to books now with e-Books). Not quite so with console games.

The real problem is that consoles in general still don’t have backwards compatibility as a standard feature when most other software platforms do. On PC getting better performance is usually as easy as installing an old game on a more powerful computer, but console games remain locked to their platforms. Hopefully the move to x86 architecture for next-gen consoles will make backwards compatibility more feasible for future hardware, but it’s too soon to know.

BULLETS:

  • Amazon has another crazy digital game sale going on, and this time it even has specific section for steam keys. Oh and Steam is having a Greenlight anniversary sale where games like Kentucky Route Zero and La-Mulana are on sale.
  • How many people know the original NES Contra was still never released on Virtual Console?
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